At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Archive for July, 2008

KEEP MANNY RAMIREZ IN BOSTON – WHERE HE BELONGS !

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 31, 2008

Manny wants to be traded.  That’s what he says today, July 31, as of 12:50 PM EST.

 

Who knows what he’ll be saying @ 4:01 PM EST, when the trading deadline occurs.

 

Manny does not want the Sox to renew his contract for 2009.

 

Manny believes he can get a multi-year deal that will guarantee his employment from 2009 through 2012, when he turns 40.

 

Bottom line, Manny does not like being renewable on a year-by-year basis.

 

Manny wants the security & megabucks he believes he has coming.

 

With his fan popularity, national reputation, 500+ HR’s, history in three World Series, and incredible good looks, Manny suspects he’ll get an $80 Million 4-year contract. 

 

He’s misjudging his market value. 

 

He is 36. His offense is declining. His defense is fair. He has baggage.  He shoved to the ground down a 68-year-old employee.  He swung his fist inexplicably at Youkilis.  He took off games with lame excuses.  He took off games against tough pitchers.  He did not run out grounders. He talked trash about team ownership. 

 

He won’t get what he thinks he is worth.  But someone will pay his $60 Mill for 4 years.  $65 Mill —  tops.

 

The Sox should move quickly this afternoon.  First by tearing up his two option years and replacing it with a 4-year $65 Million contract with performance incentives.

 

Make it so that Manny can go from earning a base of $16.25 Million a year to total annual pay of $25 Million IF he plays in 150 games, bats .300, and gets 100 RBI annually.   Stagger it.  Be creative.

 

Manny has done much for Soxaholics. He has earned this.  He’s hit in the clutch.  He’s made David Ortiz more productive.

 

He is everyone’s favorite player.

 

At most — He is the entire show on some days.

 

At worse – he is a major player in this show.

 

And make no mistake  — this is show business.

 

Let’s overlook the fact he a spoiled flake.  The Nation and the Team have managed to be flexible with Manny over 8 years of this stuff.  Let’s be loyal.  Keep him in Boston where he belongs.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

JOBA CHAMBERLAIN SHOULD BE OH K

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 26, 2008

As we head into this late-July Red Sox Yankee confrontation at Fenway,anticipation over pitching is high. 

 
 

 

Beckett v. Chamberlain on Friday. Wakefield v. Petitte on Saturday. Lester v. Ponson on Sunday. No contest this weekend ? As El Tiante would say, Bullsheet.

Friday’s game will be very tough, featuring two pitchers who are their team’s present and future. Joba Chamberlain is 23 and could have anchor the Yankee starters for the next decade. Beckett, the star of the 2003 & 2007 World Series Championship teams is but 28 years old. This sensational match up is between one established star hurler and a newcomer upon whose shoulders rests the Yankee’s ability to compete with the Sox and Rays. We could see 5 or 6 years of this match up. I’d like to see the Sox smack Joba around to teach the newbie some humility. But it ain’t gonna happen. (Last year, I kept shaking my head with his every appearance and asked, “when is someone going to kick this guy’s ass ? And it didn’t happen. ) Joba can bring it, and he has an aggressive, winning attitude. If he has the composure, expect a 0 – 2 loss to the Yankees. If Beckett matches him, expect a scoreless tie when he leaves in the 7th, and a 1 – 0 bullpen victory for the Sox.

Saturday ? Wakefield is the Sox statistical ACE this year with 14 Quality Starts. He will defeat the Yankees 7 – 4.

On Sunday, The Sox are highly likely to win with Lester. Not just because the lefty is focused and imperturbable. The 5th spot in the Yankees rotation is still TBD, with the portly Ponson the best spare part available. I expect a 4 – 0 Sox win on Sunday. Easy pickings.

Hitting won’t be in the spot light this weekend. Which is counterintuitive given that the Large Father is Back. Given that Pedroia and Youk are hot. Given that The Yankee hitters have propelled their team from last to 3rd in 10 weeks.

But this weekend will be about the letter K.

286 batters have been K’d by Boston’s 3 starters. 220 by the Yankee trio. 506 K’s to date.

We may see 40 more this weekend.

-Karl Cicitto 
 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Josh Beckett, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Terry Francona | 1 Comment »

Red Sox Ace: Tim Wakefield at the all star break

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 13, 2008

There has been much debate about which Red Sox starter is the Ace in Beantown:  Wakefield, Beckett, Lester or Matsuzaka.

 

UM….I guess Wakfefield doesn’t fit into the discussion too much.  That 68 mph flutter ball and his advancing age does NOT get much love.

 

Well…….. 

 

The “Ace” is an imaginary designation which doesn’t mean much beyond bestowing extra praise and pressure on a player.

 

But for the fun of it, I’ll take a shot at it.

 

Let’s start by looking at the starting staff overall – and then focusing on just the four guys who have made 71 of the team’s 96 starts.

 

The team ERA for all Sox starting pitchers is a combined 3.77 before the man from Tokyo makes the Sox’s last pre-All Star break start today.

 

3.77 ? 

 

Soxaholics, let us not ever, ever complain about our starters this year.    Heck, we’ve had stretches of the inverted — 7.33.

 

Our motto used to be, “We’re good, we’ve got enough pitching.”.  

The Yankees motto was, “You can never have enough pitching.”.

 

Wow.

 

Our world is upside down.  Cats sleeping with dogs.  Hank Steinbrenner admitting he’s brash.  The Rays and Cubs in first place.

 

The Sox are just one small step from pitching dominance akin the Orioles of the late sixties-early seventies.

 

Dear God, grant us one decent middle reliever, load him up with a nasty sinker, a change and a slider, and make his name Justin Masterson.

 

This season is making me dizzy.

 

But  — back to the question at hand — who is the Ace ?

 

Wakefield’s made 19 starts, 13 quality starts, with a 3.60 ERA.  Team 9W-10L.

 

Beckett’s made 17 starts, 11 quality starts, with a 3.93 ERA.  Team 10W-7L.

 

Lester’s made 20 starts, 11 quality start, with a 3.38 ERA. Team 13W-7L.

 

Matsuzaka’s made 15 starts, 10 quality starts, with a 2.84 ERA. Team 12W-3L.

 

I go by quality starts, i.e., a start in which the pitcher goes 5 to 7 innings, hangs up a game ERA that is below 4.00, and thus gives his team a good chance to win.

 

Immediately, Tim Wakefield becomes the default Ace.  He’s got the most quality starts, a very respectable ERA, and you can throw out the team 9W-10L record when he starts because wins and losses do not reflect the quality of pitching.  W’s and L’s are all about the team performance.

 

Besides, if we went by wins and losses only, we’d have to evaluate who Julio Lugo has screwed more with his poor fielding.  The guy has almost as many errors as he does RBI.

 

And, if we were going by W’s, Matsuzaka walks away as the Ace by virtue of his 12W-3L team record.  The team just consistently outscores the competition when Matsuzaka is walking the tightrope, getting out of jam after jam.

 

Run support per start is very close among these 4 guys — Matsuzaka at 5.33 Runs per start, Beckett at 5.82,  Lester 5.1,  and Wake 5.2.

 

And that closeness in average run support is matched by closeness in percent-of-quality starts among Wake, Beckett and Dice Kay.  (Range:  65% to 68% quality.)

 

 

Translation:  You get about the same chance of a quality start whether it is Wake, Beckett or Matsuzaka who starts. 

 

So, there is no real Ace.   

 

My hair-splitting & inconsequential vote at the break for Sox Ace thus goes to the 41 year old (turns 42 on Aug. 2) senior citizen of the staff.   He’s the most boring starter, throwing the 68 mph knuckler 85% of the time, mixing it w an 80 mph slow, uh, I mean, fastball.  He gets my vote by virtue of having accumulated 2 more quality starts than anyone else.

 

Had Matsuzaka not missed 4 starts he may have eclipsed Wake in quality starts. 

 

In the long run, this Race to Be Ace may turn out in Matsuzaka’s favor.  It’s a long season and we’re only 59.8% done.

 

Then again, Dice Kay’s high pitch counts could produce a fatigued arm by Labor day.

 

What do you think ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Matsuzaka, RED SOX, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »

Peter Gammons: Beyond the Sixth Game. Into the future without Yaz.

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 6, 2008

 

 

 

Gammons book a must-read

Gammons book a must-read

  

Beyond the Sixth Game.  What’s Happened to Baseball Since The Greatest Game in World Series History. By Peter Gammons.  Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

Do you remember when you first realized that the Size-XXL Dominican Gentleman with the big smile was a Red Sox ?

The Red Sox team that already had Manny, Nomar, ‘Tek, Pedro, Millar, Mueller, Lowe & Foulke. ?

Felt pretty good, didn’t it, Red Sox Fans ?

For the Fenway Faithful, things become aligned in a special way every decade or two.

Sox fans of a certain vintage got a similar high 33 years ago after looking in the sports section and seeing TWO Red Sox players, unknown, right smack in Baseball’s Top 10 Al Hitter list !  Jeesus ! What’s going on here, we thought.

It came to pass that Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were young blue chippers sent by the Baseball Gods and Dick O’Connell, to join Yaz, Rico, Spaceman, and the best Red Sox pitcher ever – Luis Tiant.

Euphoria set in.   The Sox were LOADED and could win several pennants !

If you can relate, or if you just want to dig a little into an intriguing baseball book, Peter Gammons’ Beyond the Sixth Game is for you.  Gammons has captured the Red Sox of 1975 to 1983, a team history backed up to the late Sixties for perspective.

Gammons peppered this book with golden nuggets.

Here are a few of my favorites –

Rick “Tall Boy” Jones’ claim to fame came in high school, when he was suspended with 3 members of the Lynard Skynard band, caught by gym teacher Leonard Skinner.

Carlton Fisk, a well rounded New England boy who could fight; on 8-1-73, he pinned Gene Michael to the ground with his left hand while he pounded Munson with his right.

Dennis Eckersley, a cocky & talented 23-year-old, who had his own language, offering batters ‘cheese for their kitchen, and a yakker for their kudo.”

George Scott, rugged 1st sacker, who, when asked about what he thought about Biafra, said, “I never faced the muddafuka, but by the 3rd time I do face him, I’ll hit a tater.”.

The Rooster, Rick Burleson, commenting on the Sox collapse of 1978, “….the abuse we must be prepared to take for the entire winter, we richly deserve.”.

Luis Tiant, a pitcher for the ages, on the Sox brilliant run to force the 1-game playoff of ’78, “If we lose today, it will be over my dead body. …bleep those guys who want to throw in the towel.”.

There are funny & touching details on Yaz through the various stages of his career, and much on how he handled his farewell weekend.  For anyone who was at Fenway on Oct. 1 or 2, 1983, this book is meant for you to read.

Gammons measures the Sox over 9 seasons.  The Sox rose.   They promised a dynasty.  They failed to adjust to changing times.  They won a pennant, nearly won one more, then slid into mediocrity & their first losing record in 17 years.  They enjoyed an historic influx of young talent and then released, traded away and otherwise squandered the talent, as the front office lost their way in an ownership battle.

Among the leading factors in the decline was Jean Yawkey.  Why would the aging doyen prefer to sell the Sox to two jokers with $400,000 on hand rather than to men with $14 Million in cash-money ?

The Yawkeys take the brunt of the criticism for mismanaging the Sox.

In 1965, Tom Yawkey replace old drinking pal Pinky Higgins with Dick O’Connell as G.M.  Dick O’Connell designed the regeneration of the Sox from ’67 to ’75.

And when Jean Yawkey and the Sullivan/LeRoux team fired O’Connell in 1977, a costly series of stupid decisions ensued, resulting in the departure of Fisk, Lynn, Lee, Carbo, and Tiant.

  

Dick O'Connell earned respect & grattitude.

Dick O

 The Sox pushed away pitching, said goodbye to their bench strength, and hoped that the salary spiral caused by free agency would correct itself.  Meanwhile, they hung back, stayed out of the bidding, and waited for the market to cool down.

They led us into the Valley of Mediocrity.

But where there is pain, there is also JOY.  You can’t go wrong reading BEYOND THE SIXTH GAME.

 

Younger fans will better understand the burden endured by more experienced ones.  Older fans will smile with the memory of quirky talents, and the long dark road that ultimately led home.

 

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Gammons book a must read

Gammons book a must read

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, Bill Lee, Carl Yastrzemski, David Ortiz, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Peter Gammons, RED SOX, roger clemens, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »